Teens with autism visit Orlando watersports park

Dozens of young people and their families gathered at the Orlando Watersports Complex on Sunday morning for a day of fun. The kids though had one special thing in common: they all have autism, which often affects how one acts around others.

"I don't like to be in a lot of social interactions, I like to be more isolated, it just feels more comfortable," explained Derek Alexander, one of the teenagers with autism at the event.

Autism shows up in different ways. Some people with autism behave and act normally, but others may have severe learning disabilities and not even speak. 

Tom Hart, with the group Above the Wake, said water seems to help people with autism. "Oftentimes water is very soothing to individuals that have autism. The touch, the feel. Sometimes our children get hyper-focused with regards to the activities they're doing. It gives them an outlet for different stimming and just for them to be very focused on the event at hand."

"Stimming" means stimulation, which can help people with autism get comfortable with new situations. "I'm getting better every day," said Shomari Jones, another teen with autism at the event. What helps him? "Practicing," he said, "going to school, making friends, meeting new people."

This is the ninth year the event was being held at the water park, and Sunday was World Autism Awareness Day. 

The kids took part in knee-boarding, wakeboarding, boating, and the aqua park. The parents said it was great to see their kids being out and having fun.

 "With him being on the autism spectrum, we try to attend every local event that is for children with autism. This is one of our favorite ones because he loves water and it's just a fun day," said Natasha Jones.